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A deep dive into chicken labels: Criteria

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REPORT BY CRITERIA
   -Prudent antibiotic use
   -Prohibits growth hormones
   -Prohibits animal byproducts in the diet
   -GMOs in feed
   -Prohibits synthetic pesticides/ fertilizers in feed production
   -Prohibits synthetic amino acids
   -Limit on rapid weight gain
   -Outdoor access
   -Indoor enrichment
   -Indoor space
   -Air quality
   -Artificial light and darkness
   -Catching and crating
   -Transport time limit
   -Natural v. dim light
   -Slaughter treatment
   -Slaughter line speed
REPORT BY LABEL
FULL REPORT: ALL CRITERIA AND LABELS

Limit on rapid weight gain

Poultry breeding programs and farming practices have focused on achieving rapid growth and large breast muscles, largely ignoring health problems that arise from such rapid growth. Chickens raised for meat today can reach market weight in as little as 40 days. The average weight of a chicken today is 5.5 pounds, compared with 3.4 pounds in 1960.

Chickens often suffer from leg deformities and lameness due to their rapid growth and the weight of their large breast muscle. An estimated 90 million chickens raised for meat die each year before they reach the slaughterhouse due to their leg problems.

Rapid weight gain can also lead to problems with internal organs, especially the heart and lungs, which cannot distribute enough oxygen throughout the enlarged body's muscles. Fast-growing birds also often suffer from acute heart failure and Sudden Death Syndrome.

Rapid weight gain can be discouraged by setting a minimum age at slaughter or restricting the rate of growth.

Note: Rapid weight gain can also be prevented by choosing traditional breeds rather than "modern" breeds that have been bred to grow rapidly and have large breast muscles. Some programs encourage choosing breeds carefully but none prohibit modern breeds.

Limit on rapid weight gain: Criteria key

industry baseline

no minimum age at slaughter or restriction on rate of growth, but standards encourage traditional breeds or breeds with low mortality levels

minimum age at slaughter is at least 60 days, or rate of growth restricted to no more than 0.083 pounds per day

minimum age at slaughter is at least 80 days, or rate of growth restricted to no more than 0.063 pounds per day



Limit on rapid weight gain: How labels stack up against criteria

CHICKEN LABELS REPORT - Criteria: Limit on rapid weight gain
Label Limit on rapid weight gain How label stacks up against criteria
Conventional

American Humane Association Certified

Animal Welfare Approved

when averaged over their entire lives, the rate of growth must not exceed 0.075 pounds per day
Certified Humane

Certified Naturally Grown

Demeter Biodynamic

minimum age at slaughter is 81 days
Food Alliance

Free Range

GAP Step 1

breeds/lines must be chosen for good leg health and low levels of mortality
GAP Step 2

breeds/lines must be chosen for good leg health and low levels of mortality
GAP Step 3

breeds/lines must be chosen for good leg health and low levels of mortality
GAP Step 4

breeds/lines must be chosen for good leg health and low levels of mortality
GAP Step 5

breeds/lines must be chosen for good leg health and low levels of mortality
GAP Step 5+

breeds/lines must be chosen for good leg health and low levels of mortality
Natural or All Natural

No antibiotics administered

USDA Organic

Vegetarian Fed or No Animal By-Products

Humanely Raised

No growth hormones

Kosher

USDA Process Verified - Never Ever 3

USDA Process Verified - Humanely Raised (National Chicken Council Welfare Standards)

Non-GMO Project Verified


See the full report with all labels and criteria


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